Ahmed met Ghodsi 50 years ago when he knocked on her family’s door as a poor student. He had just arrived in in Shiraz to finish his study. Ghodsi served him simple lunch and a year after they were married. Back then her father used to work for the Shah’s government. His father owned a family factory making Iranian carpets. Today the couple is 74 and lives in a vast flat in north Tehran.Floors are lined with hand-made silk Iranian carpets, an intricate masterpieces worth thousands of dollars. These are the only of its kind in the world – says Ahmed showing me the 3x4m bright rug in his living room made by the company that he had inherited after his late father. Usually they cover the massive carpet with few cheaper ones, just to prevent any possible damage.
The house tour ends up in the bedroom, in front of a carpet hanging on the wall that shows the famous scene from Titanic, the one when Leonardo DiCaprio holds Kate Winslet as she spreads her arms and dreams that she flies (or whatever she was dreaming about at that time).
– We loved this movie – tells me Ahmed – Can you do me a favor Aleks? Can you find a home address of this man?
– Who? Leonardo DiCaprio you mean? – I ask surprised.
-Yes! The boy. I want to send him this carpet. It’s very expensive and made of silk!
Ahmed is convinced that Leo would be honored to receive his carpet. And who knows, maybe he would. How often do you get a carpet with your own face hand-woven by Iranian artists? I waited three days before I told him it was almost impossible to get the actor’s address – you don’t mess with other people’s dreams as long as you don’t have to.
Today, Ahmed still runs his company based few hundred kilometers away from Tehran, in Tabriz. Ghodsi takes care of the house and her husband. She is an amazing cook as all the ladies from Shiraz, what I was told by another friend of mine, Shayda. Her freezer is always full of mouthwatering home-made saffron ice cream and other treats. Fasenjoon – says Ghodsi – is one of the most popular Iranian dishes. We eat it once a month. It’s a stew made of chicken, walnuts and pomegranate molasses. After explanation comes the cooking class that outcomes you can see below 🙂
Fasenjoon – Persian walnut pomegranate & chicken stew
Ingredients( 4 servings)
preparation time: 45 minutes
0,5 kg chicken thighs (or other chicken parts with bones), cut into bite size pieces
1 cup walnuts, crushed
1 tbsp flour
2 cinnamon sticks
800 ml chicken stock
100 ml pomegranate molasses
1 onion, finely chopped
ghee or butter for frying
- Preheat the pan. Fry chicken from both sides until golden brown.
- In separate pan, combine chopped onion and cinnamon sticks. Saute it for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Combine crashed walnuts with flour and transfer into cooked onion. Cook together for about 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add chicken stock and cover with the lid. Cook for 25 minutes on low heat.
- Stir in pomegranate molasses and cook for another 10 minutes uncovered. Turn off the heat and serve with saffron rice.
The secret of fasenjoon lies in the quality of your pomegranate molasses. Always try to find products without additional sugar. It should have very rich taste and dark purple color. Ghodsi told me that some people prefer the dish to be more sweet and sour. If you’re one of them just add some sugar and lemon to your stew in the final stage of cooking.